Beating the Comparison Trap

It never fails that when I compare myself to others I always come up short. Of course, I’m often comparing myself to the likes of someone like Warren Buffet or Kara Goucher. I don’t let myself off the hook that easily, but I do find myself in the comparison trap sometimes even with family or friends. It’s a hard road to travel, when you’re always losing. I’ve come up with a way to beat it, though.

To overcome the comparison trap, there’s only one person to compare yourself to: You.

You’re the only one who has lived your life, has your genetics, your history, background, knowledge, skills, and abilities. No two people are alike. Maybe one person’s parents paid for their college education, but you had to work three jobs to get through school. Maybe you were born into a family of fitness and long distance running. Or maybe you’re the first in your family to ever have a gym membership and eat a star fruit. There’s no way to compare every ounce of your being with another person. side note: I’m so glad I’m not a twin.

Lately, my blog feeds are a buzz with amazing runners jumping into ultra-marathons, photographers succeeding beyond their wildest dreams, librarians writing best-selling books, or financial gurus quitting their corporate jobs to stay home making tons of money blogging about their experience, debt-free and all.

How on earth can I keep up with all of these successful people?

Instead of wallowing in the why not me or the where did I go wrong mentality, I prefer to take a few moments when I feel like a total loser and see how far I’ve come in the past year. And, this year was a doozy of a year for me…

| life |
2012 – I was a new mom, unsure of what to do every single moment of the day.
2013 – I’m still a new mom, but more comfortable being “Miles’ mom” and being in control of who I am in that role.

| net worth |
2012 – We were almost out of debt, waiting to pay off Chris’ student loans. And little hope to sell our home in such a down economy.
2013 – We are again, almost out of debt, but did pay off Chris’ student loans. Now, we’re waiting to pay off Chris’ new car loan, but we have paid more toward the mortgage in order to sell our house hopefully sooner.

| career |
2012 – I was unsure of going back to work and being a working mom. I just couldn’t fathom it and hated it for many months.
2013 – I’ve got the first year under my belt as a “working mom”. It wasn’t easy at first, but it was better as time went on and now I completely appreciate being able to go to work and do what I love.

| food |
2012 – I ate whatever and whenever. I was eating emotionally. I was going through a rough time and completely lost in life.
2013 – I am still eating under stress some days, but I am mostly back to cooking healthier. I give myself a lot more slack and less guilt when I get off track. I enjoy eating a variety of foods, and don’t beat myself up over junk – as long as I make it from scratch!

| weight |
2012 – Hm, yeah, I was the heaviest I’ve ever been in my life hovering around 178+lbs. I felt awful about the scale and was terrified it would never change. Terrified, I would never change. I was uncomfortable in my body, in my clothes, and it showed in every interaction I had with others.
2013 – I’m down 30lbs, hovering in the mid-140s and feeling normal again. I’m confident, and fit into my pre-pregnancy clothes easily. I can run 11 miles, when not injured. I still want more strength and endurance, but I am proud of myself for never giving up no matter how many times I’ve hit a plateau. About 20lbs left to reach my goal. Time for updated progress photos, too!

| photos |
2012 – I didn’t even pick-up my camera if I wasn’t asked to.
2013 – I can’t seem to stop taking photos with at minimum, my ipod. And, I’m loving the work I’ve created with my 5dm2 this spring. I’m excited to take photos again and have come up with a few fun project ideas for the summer.

| business |
2012 – I felt so detached from it all, just going through the motions. I dreaded inquiries.
2013 – I feel invigorated and open to new possibilities. I’ve realized my passion is in newborn photography and have decided to zero in on that work going forward. If it goes well, awesome. If I fall flat on my face, I’ll pick myself up, dust myself off, and find a new direction.

| projects |
2012 – I had none to speak of. Not even hope of one. I didn’t want to be on this earth anymore.
2013 – I’m working on several projects related to designing a major road race event’s website, another self portrait project, writing an eBook, more online tutorials about food, photography and fitness, guest blogging at Running Routes, and getting more active in the running and library communities.

So, remember: next time you feel like you’ve wasted your time to become a complete loser, create personal scale of measurement for yourself. Take notes, and each year reflect back on how far you’ve come in whatever areas of your life you want to change.

I am positive in another year I’ll look back at this from an entirely new perspective.

How far have you come in the past year?